Cravens_M

 


Pvt. Maynard C. Cravens


    Pvt. Maynard C. Cravens was born on October 16, 1918, in Booneville, Kentucky, to William D. Cravens and Mary Belle Jaaggers-Cravens.  With his sister and two brothers, he grew up in Hart County, Kentucky.  He also had three half-sisters and four half-brothers.  He left school after eighth grade and worked on the family farm until he became a truck driver.
    Maynard was inducted into the U.S. Army on January 21, 1941, in Louisville, Kentucky. and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  It is not known what specific training he received during basic training, but it is known that he was assigned to D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, at that time.  The company had been a Kentucky National Guard Tank Company from Harrodsburg and the Army attempted to fill the company out with men from its home state.     
   
    In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and took part in maneuvers there.  It was after the maneuvers that it was ordered to remain at the base instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  The soldiers had not idea why they had been ordered to remain at the fort.  About two weeks later, on the side of a hill, the soldiers were informed they were being sent overseas.  Those who were married or 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal service.  Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion. 
    The decision for this move -  which had been made on August 15, 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island which was hundred of miles away.  The island had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
     When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.  The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to shore.   Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    The battalion's new tanks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were loaded onto flat cars, on different trains.  The soldiers also cosmolined anything that they thought would rust.  Over different train routes, the companies were sent to San Francisco, California, where they were ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they were given physicals by the battalion's medical detachment and men found with minor medical conditions were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27.  During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP.   They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    On Wednesday, November 5, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, the transport, S.S. President Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Dateline.  On Saturday, November 15, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.  At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.

    At the fort, the tankers were met by Gen. Edward King.  King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.  At this time, D Company was suppose to be transferred to the 194th Tank Battalion, but the transfer was never completed, so the company remained under the command of the 192nd.
    The morning of December 8, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  During the night, word had been received about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At exactly noon the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. 
To get their lunch three tankers from each tank were allowed to go to the food truck that had been sent to the airfield to feed them.  Most of the soldiers were in line at the truck when they saw planes approaching.  No one was alarmed by this since they did not believe that the Japanese would attack.  It was only when bombs began exploding that they realized they were wrong.
   After the attack, D Company was ordered to Mabalac on Delores Road.  They remained there until December 10.  They were next sent to Klumpit to look for paratroopers.  While there, they guarded a large bridge from saboteurs.   

    On December 13, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers to do reconnaissance and guard beaches.  They remained there until December 23rd, when they were sent 100 kilometers north to Rosario to assist the 26th U. S. Cavalry because the defensive lines had broken.

   
    Christmas Day, the tankers spent in a coconut grove.  As it turned out, the coconuts were all they had to eat. 
From Christmas to January 15, 1942, both day and night, all the tanks did was cover retreats of different infantry units.  The tanks were constantly bombed, shelled, and strafed.   

    The tankers were next assigned to guarding the Bataan and Cabcaban Airfields.  They also guarded against beach landings and paratroopers.  They would continue this duty until April 7.  On April 8, the tankers were sent Trail 10 and Mount Samat.  The lines had broken.  They fought there until receiving the news of the surrender.     
    During the withdraw from the Abucay-Hacinda Road, the tankers were ordered to hold a position as long as possible.  If a tank was disabled, its crew was to continue fighting until it became apparent that they had to abandon their tank.  The crew was than to abandon the tank after destroying it. 

    The morning of April 9, about 6:45 in the morning, the tankers received the order, "crash."   They destroyed their equipment and tanks.  Spome of the members of the  D Company took off for the hills but were picked up later by the Japanese.  Maynard was one of sixteen members of the company that escaped to Corregidor.

    After arriving on Corregidor, Maynard volunteered to be sent to Ft. Drum.  He remained there until Corregidor surrendered on May 6, 1942.  The prisoners were sent to Corregidor and held on the beach for two weeks before being by barge to a point off Bataan.  From there, they were march ed to Manila and Bilibid Prison.  It known that he was held as a POW at Cabanatuan and remained in the camp until late July 1943.
    At that time, Maynard was one of the POWs selected to go to Japan and taken by train to Manila.  On July 23, 1943, the Clyde Maru sailed from Manila and arrived at Zambales the same day to load manganese ore.  It remained in port for three days before sailing again on July 26th. 
    During this part of the trip 100 POWs were allowed on deck at a time from 6:00 A.M. until 4:00 PM. each day.  The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 28 and remained in port until August 5 when it sailed as part of a nine ship convoy.  The ship arrived at Moji, Japan, on August 7th but the POWs did not disembark until the next morning.
    The POWs were taken by train to the Fukuoka area.  From there, they were taken to
Fukuoka Camp #17.   The camp had a ten foot high wooden fence around it with three electrified wires at the top.  Fifty POWs were assigned to each barracks which were 20 feet wide and 120 feet long and were divided into ten rooms.  Four to six POWs shared a room.   
    The POWs worked in a condemned coal mine.  They worked bent over since they were taller than the average Japanese miner.  At the mine, each prisoner was expected to load three cars of coal a day.  The POWs worked 12 hour work days being given only three rations of rice each day.  The Japanese made the POWs mine areas which had cracks in the ceiling indicating a cave-in might take place.  One was known as the "hotbox" because of its temperatures.
    A meal consisted of seven spoonfuls of water and one fourth a cup of very poor quality watery rice a day.  To supplement their diets, the prisoners also ate dog meat, radishes, potato greens and seaweed.  The POWs were fed before going to work or after returning from the mine.  As they entered the mess hall, they would say their POW number to a POW at a board.  He would take a nail and place it in the hole in front of the man's number.  After all the POWs had been fed, the board was cleared for the next meal.
    Corporal punishment was an everyday occurrence at the camp.  The guards beat the POWs for slightest reason and continued until the POW was unconscious.  The man was then taken to the guardhouse and put in solitary confinement without food or water for a long period of time.
    During the winter, the POWs were made to stand at attention and had water thrown on them as they stood in the cold, or they were forced to knee on bamboo poles.  It is known that the POWs were made to stand in water and shocked with electrical current.  At some point, Jim recalled, two POWs were tied to a post and left to die.  This was done they had violated a camp rule.

 While he was in the camp Lieutenant Commander Edward Little turned in Marine Cpl. James Pavlokas.  Cravens said, "I knew Pavlokas well.  Pavlokas was in my section.  He was turned over to the Japanese.  The first time in September 1943, he spent 15 days in the guardhouse.  The second time, time two months later, he lasted 38 days - until he died. He wasn't allowed water or food or even bedclothes."
    About a year later, another POW, Pvt. William H. Knight, was turned in to the Japanese by Lt/Cdr. Little, "After they put Knight in the guardhouse, we heard licks being given to him.  He lasted five days."

    Scams were run, by POWs, to get the money from other POWs.  One, which was run by another member of the 192nd, was so successful that the Japanese shut it down.  POWs traded their food for cigarettes and referred to as future corpses. 
    Life at Fukuoka #17 was hard and there were prisoners who would steal from other prisoners.  To prevent this from happening, the POWs would "buddy up" with each other.  While one man was working in the mine, the POW who was not working would watch the possessions of the other man.
    In addition, the sick were forced to work.  The Japanese camp doctor allowed the sick, who could walk, to be sent into the mine.  He also took the Red Cross medical supplies meant for the POWs for his own use and failed to provide adequate medical treatment.  Food that came in the packages was eaten by the guards.
    On August 9, 1945, some of the POWs saw the atomic bomb that had been dropped on Nagasaki.  Those who saw it said it was a sunny day, but the explosion still lit up the sky.  The pillar of smoke that rose from the bomb was described as having all the colors of the rainbow.  Afterwards, the POWs saw what they described as a fog blanketing Nagasaki,which seemed to have vanished.
    Shortly after this, the Japanese became more tolerant, which caused the prisoners to hope that liberation was near.  When the Japanese told the prisoners that they did not have to work, Lester knew that the war was over.  The Japanese guards soon disappeared from the camp.  One day, an American appeared at the gates of the camp who was a reporter from the Chicago Tribune and told the POWs that the war was over and Americans had landed on the island.
   The POWs went to work and talked to the Japanese civilians who spoke about how those, who had survived the blast, would touch their heads and pull out their hair.  They stated these Japanese died within days.  They told of how they heard about a detachment of Japanese soldiers that had been sent into Nagasaki to look for survivors suffered the same fate.
   When they came out of the mine, they found that the next shift of POWs was not waiting to go to work.  That night, the POWs were made to stand at attention for two hours.  They all had their blankets because they believed they were going to be moved.  Instead, they were returned to their barracks.  The next day, when it was their turn to go to work, they were told it was a holiday, and they had the day off.  They knew something was up because they had never had a holiday off before this.
    Finally, the POWs were gathered in the camp and told that Japan and the United States were now friends.  They were also told to stay in the camp.  They also found a warehouse with Red Cross packages and distributed the packages to the camp
    American planes appeared over the camp and dropped food, clothes, and medicine.  One day, George Well, a reporter for the The Chicago Daily News came to the camp and told the POWs that Americans were on the island.  Some POWs, including members of the 192nd who were in the camp, left the camp to find the Americans.  It is not known if Marvin was one of them.  The POWs were officially liberated on September 13, 1945, but remained in the camp until September 19th.

    Marvin was taken to the Dejima Docks in Nagasaki and boarded a transport, on September 21, 1945, that returned him to the Philippines.  He received medical treatment there and was promoted to staff sergeant.  When he was healthy, he was returned to the United States and was not discharged until November 5, 1946.  It is known that he married Marie Garcia and was the father of a daughter.
    In 1951, Maynard was admitted to the Veterans Administration hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.  According to medical records, Maynard Cravens passed away at the hospital on August 30, 1951, from tuberculosis which he most likely developed while a POW.
    Maynard C. Craven was buried at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, in Louisville, on September 1, 1951, in Section C, Site 636.


 

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